Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mongolian Christian Celebration Uses Visual Art

Back in June Ariunaa, a Southeast Asian living in Mongolia, contacted me about an upcoming worship celebration in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia that took place in September (2011).  Ariunaa had discovered some of my artwork, specifically this ceramic bowl called Risen Lord of Heaven and Earth.  She explained that the celebration in Ulaanbaatar was commemorating 20 years of the Gospel in Mongolia, and that people from all over Mongolia would be attending.  The event's worship leader had asked her to train a group of believers in using flags for worship; nine banners would be used during the celebration, and she wanted to know if they could adapt my bowl image for one of them.  Of course, I quickly agreed!

Here is the banner that was created, based on my bowl design.  As you can see, the figure of Jesus was replaced with a cross. Mongolian Christian leaders with whom Ariunaa consulted suggested it would be more suitable.

The nine banners were used in a segment of the celebration called "Jesus, Hope of the Nations," where each banner-bearer was dressed in the national costume of a different country.  The banners are all approximately 2 x 1.4 meters in size (6.5' x 4.6').  The text on each banner is written twice, first in Mongolian cyrillic, and then again in Mongol bichig (traditional Mongolian calligraphy).  My banner was titled "Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life" and was based on John 14:6.

After meeting an associate of ICE in Mongolia and seeing the ICE website, Ariunaa says she "was really touched to see how God is releasing people to worship in ways that they find culturally relevant, rather than by aping some other culture. In Mongolia I've felt there's often overuse of translated American and Australian songs, and too much... Korean-style praise and worship, when there is already a rich tradition of magtaal (praise) and honor in the 800+ years of Mongolian culture and local Christians have composed many lovely worship songs."  Many of the songs sung at the Praise and Worship Naadam were composed by Mongolians, accompanied by Mongolian dance.

I also wanted to include a few of the other banner designs, and the explanations for the symbols used on them.

"The person who trusts in the Lord is blessed" (Psalm 34:8).  The image is an ulzii hee-- the eternal knot, a traditional symbol of blessing/ good luck, intertwined with a khadag, or scarf-- a symbol of honor, on a platform of a lotus, which is a symbol of purity.

"My Cup Runs Over" (Psalm 23:5-- "my cup is richly full").  The image is a ceremonial silver cup full of milk (which is a symbol of holiness and provision), and the spout of a dombo, a traditional Mongolian pitcher.

"Jesus Be Glorified in Mongolia" (John 12:28).  The image is the horse/yak-tail banners of Mongolia, the symbols of authority and power. Black is for war, white for peace.  Ariunaa was asked to show three banners (an odd number to mean joy, instead of sadness, which is an even number).  The third banner is yellow, to symbolize all peoples (black, white, and yellow-- which includes the brown-skinned peoples) glorifying God under the authority of Jesus.

Lastly, Ariunaa writes that  she and other local Christians are trying to raise funds for one of the pastors involved in the event, Pastor Purevsed, who played the morin huur at the 20th anniversary celebrations.  He is dire need of a kidney transplant, and Ariunaa is trying to sell the banners to contribute to the remaining funds needed to pay for an operation in South Korea.  $23,000 US will have to be raised if Purevsed is to have the transplant.  You can find out more about him and make contributions through this Facebook page, and see a video of him playing the morin huur here (in the grey-and-white sweater).  They are trying to raise the remaining money by the end of October 2011.

1 comment:

  1. The bichig script is reaaaaally cool!! It looks like sideways Arabic. :)